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Face of Defense: Alaska-Based Airman Fights for Fitness

April 19, 2017 | BY Air Force Airman 1st Class Mae S. Olson, 168th Wing

One of the many requirements to serve in the United States military is to meet physical fitness standards. One Alaska Air National Guardsman is exceeding not only his fitness standards, but is an award-winning fitness competitor and coach who’s leading others to success.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Jean-Paul Williams, 168th Force Support Squadron services craftsman, administers physical fitness tests during monthly training at Baker Field House, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, April 2, 2017. As a unit fitness program manager, Williams ensures that airmen are current with their PT tests and implements training plans for those who need extra motivation. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Mae S. Olson
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jean-Paul Williams, 168th Force Support Squadron services craftsman, administers physical fitness tests during monthly training at Baker Field House, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, April 2, 2017. As a unit fitness program manager, Williams ensures that airmen are current with their PT tests and implements training plans for those who need extra motivation. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Mae S. Olson
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jean-Paul Williams, 168th Force Support Squadron services craftsman, administers physical fitness tests during monthly training at Baker Field House, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, April 2, 2017. As a unit fitness program manager, Williams ensures that airmen are current with their PT tests and implements training plans for those who need extra motivation. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Mae S. Olson
Why this Alaska Airman fights for fitness
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jean-Paul Williams, 168th Force Support Squadron services craftsman, administers physical fitness tests during monthly training at Baker Field House, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, April 2, 2017. As a unit fitness program manager, Williams ensures that airmen are current with their PT tests and implements training plans for those who need extra motivation. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Mae S. Olson
Photo By: Airman 1st Class Mae Olson
VIRIN: 170402-Z-OV942-017

Air Force Staff Sgt. Jean-Paul Williams, a 168th Force Support Flight services craftsman, balances his Guard duties with his job as a personal trainer at a gym in Olympia, Washington. As he trains others, he also focuses on his goals as a fitness competitor.

“Fitness has always been important to me, but there came a time where I needed more than just the satisfaction of passing my [physical training] test,” Williams said.

Faced with disciplinary action and the possibility of getting kicked out of the National Guard, Williams made the decision to take his fitness to the next level.

“That’s what kick-started my motivation to compete,” he said.

Competitive Fitness

Williams has participated in nine fitness competitions, qualifying for nationals eight times. In order to qualify for nationals, competitors must place top five in their class. Williams most recently competed in the Washington Iron Man competition in October 2016, placing first in Class D men’s physique.

“My personal goals encompass powerlifting principles, athletic training, bodybuilding and a little bit of cross fit,” he said. “Being a self-coached competitor, I also have to be very meticulous with what I put into my body. Working through the fatigue has helped me learn how to be resilient.”

One of the most important aspects of training for a fitness competition is focusing on nutrition, Williams said. Eating healthy is about 85 to 95 percent of what leads to the best results. Being able to focus on multiple aspects to reach a goal can help reduce stress and the ability to multi-task.

Williams is now training for a competition later this year. If he places first or second at nationals, he will be awarded the title of pro competitor.

“I’ve witnessed him evolve tremendously,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Claudia Cen, the 168th FSF services noncommissioned officer in charge, who has been a mentor for Williams throughout his career. “He has grown and matured. I see that as he learns to apply discipline in his routine, he has also applied it in his job.”

Discipline is just as important as working hard, Cen said. The more that he used fitness as an outlet and continued to educate himself, the easier it was to overcome the challenges he faced, she said.

Guard Duties

One of Williams’ duties in the Guard is tracking and facilitating fitness testing. He works with a team that communicates with each unit fitness program manager to ensure airmen are current with their physical training tests, and often works full-time to support the active-duty services team during busier training months. As a noncommissioned officer, he is also responsible for mentoring airmen and acts as an advocate for anyone seeking fitness advice.

“I understand that I can’t hold everyone to the same standard I hold myself to,” Williams said. “As long as everyone is living a healthy lifestyle and passing their fitness assessments, that benefits the wing as a whole. When people pass their [physical training] tests, they tend to be happier and can focus on the mission.”

Williams said he has trained 20 to 30 people during the six years he has served in the Guard and is currently training 10 individuals in his civilian job. His clients range from high school students involved in sports to those going through rehabilitation training, service members and people interested in losing weight.

“Being a part of the 168th has been a great experience and I’ve definitely learned a lot along the way,” he said. “Even though I use my personal passion for fitness as an outlet, all of the hard work I’ve put into myself shows in my work ethic. It has made me a better airman. Whatever you set your mind to, if you do it wholeheartedly, you’re going to get an end result that will make you happy.”